Breach

I am not portly.

Edit: Wow, that guy is portly.

Saw it, and thought it was very good, thanks to the actor playing Hanssen. The portrayal of the “devout traitor” was eerie because his doublethink didn’t quite make sense and wasn’t played out as a neat, explicable character reveal as the move went along.

That said, I kept imagining that grim-faced, vain, dour bastard was like that because he knew he was walking around a TV movie. Everytime he looked at someone, it’s as if he was thinking, “Who the fuck are you? Why aren’t you Ben Fucking Affleck, boy?”

I thought this was brilliant.

I couldn’t disagree more with Rywill about Ryan Phillippe’s performance. I thought he did a great job of playing it close to the vest, and working off the various levels of what Chris Cooper was doing. He is a bit bland looking, but I think he’s very expressive. It’s easy to follow his sympathies for Hanssen and have him serve as a stand-in for the audience.

Listening to the commentary track, the real Eric O’Neill explains how the stakes are contrived – it does seem odd that the FBI would whisk some guy off surveillance to be the linchpin for the country’s biggest counter-espionage case EVAR – but director Billy Ray makes a good case for how his version of events makes for a better story. And they sell it well, particularly once the curtain is pulled aside and the full extent of the operation is revealed to the audience. In reality, Eric O’Neill was a fully briefed participant in the operation, but in the movie, he’s bait offered to Hanssen for his religious and technical background.

Besides, this is essentially about two men working out their concepts of loyalty against the backdrop of national security and, in Hanssen’s case, his own pride. Phillippe and Cooper do an amazing job of making Hanssen’s reckless final drop seem entirely plausible and entirely character-driven. Phillippe’s one line – “You don’t matter” – seals the deal once Chris Cooper has laid the groundwork for who Hanssen is: an arrogant, devout, deeply frustrated man. How Phillippe comes to understand and use this is the arc of the movie. It’s some of the best character development I’ve seen in a movie in a long time.

As for Rywill’s complaint about the pager, what I got from that moment was that the wife was shrewd enough to go along with the bluff. Chris Cooper presumably says something like ‘Why don’t you use your special pager to try and reach him?’ At which point she – already mistrusting him and thinking he’s “creepy” – bluffs attempting to page her husband.

The director, Billy Ray, did just as good a job with Shattered Glass. He seems to specialize in character-driven thrillers that are built around lies and betrayals rather than shoot outs and psychos.

Anyway, I certainly hope the dumbass Academy remember’s Cooper’s performance come time for nominations. What an excellent bit of work.

-Tom

I loved this movie as well and agree that Cooper deserves some recognition for this role. And I have to say that I’ve been extremely impressed with both of Billy Ray’s films. The jerk that I am, I picture Billy Ray directing with a mullet, but his films were great, smallish character studies in living with lies. He also got very solid performances from actors I usually don’t expect a lot from. Phillipe is usually solid in whatever he’s doing, but here I thought he was great. Hayden Christiansen sucked in the Star Wars films but was quite good in Shattered Glass.

Eagerly looking forward to Billy Ray’s next project.

My college roommate’s father was a big guy at the NSA. He applied for an internship there for one summer. One day some gubment guys show up at the dorm, asking who knows “X”. They asked for me but I wasn’t there , so they interviewed a number of guys in the dorm. Definitely surprised me that they’d go to such lengths for a college intern who father worked there. I mean they flew several guys down from DC to NC for this.

!Spoilerish!

Holy Office Space Batman, Lumbergh now works for the FBI!!!

That was really the only moment that kicked me out of the movie. Great film though. They did a really good job building up Hansen as this semi-delusional guy that never feels he gets the credit he deserves, whether it be from his dad, his bosses, or his god.

!End Spoilerish!

edit: Fixed thanks to triggercut and metta.

Are you referring to Bingo Bob? :p

I too, liked this movie a lot, and am a huge fan of Chris Cooper; he seems to carry all his characters’ pain in his eyes.

You know, I liked all the performances, but as a thriller, well, it wasn’t very thrilling. Nice atmosphere and acting, but it just didn’t build up to anything that satisfying.

Who the fuck’s Lundgren?

You mean Lumbergh?

Damn me and my shitty memory! You’re right. I rolled a 1 on my movie-fu check.

Edit: Ahh, Dolph Lundgren is the 80s early 90s B-movie action dude. There’s some major mis-wiring going on in my brain.

It’s more of a drama than it is a typical thriller. Everything is pretty well known to the audience from the beginning. It didn’t help that the film is mostly about unraveling Hansen’s character even though the film arc is O’Neil’s. That’s a fair bit of misdirection that could diffuse much of tension the film had.

Not gay enough.

That flat-top is hawt.

I just finished this on DVD rental, and if I had seen it in 2007, I’d have put this on the 10 best list I never wrote.

Kudos to Chris Cooper for his portrayal. I thought Ryan Phillipe did pretty well as the agent against him, though the direction was so low key it was often hard to tell. The one scene that it did seem to work for him was the one in the woods. Also, bonus points to Caroline Dhavernas for the accent.

On a related, I’m really liking these sort of films where they pit two characters against each other and tell the story of their motivations, personality conflicts and dramatic consequences. What other films are there like this?

Well, for starters, you should see Billy Ray’s last movie, Shattered Glass.

-Tom